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Media release: Building the future rural health workforce

20th May 2019

In a state first, high school students and boarders interested in pursuing a career in health will be encouraged to practise in country NSW as part of a new initiative by NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN) to ensure sustainable health solutions are developed for rural towns.

RDN – in partnership with universities, health service providers and NSW Government agencies – will promote the benefits and rewards of a rural health career to students by launching the inaugural Rural Health Careers Forum in Sydney this Wednesday.

RDN CEO Richard Colbran said the Forum will have a particular focus on students from rural areas who are boarding at Sydney schools, but is open to all students in years 9 to 12.

“RDN’s experiences over 30 years have provided a body of evidence that students from rural areas studying health professions are often likely to return to rural NSW to work,” Mr Colbran said.

“We want to encourage boarders to consider bringing their skills ‘home’ to benefit their local community and, through the Forum, showcase to all students the vast range of rural health careers available and how beneficial working in rural NSW can be,” he said.

RDN has partnered with Pymble Ladies’ College to present the forum which will offer practical sessions, talks from health professionals and recent graduates, a Q&A panel discussion for students and their families and pathway advice to assist students planning for tertiary study and HSC subject selection.

“The Forum aims to give students the opportunity to hear first-hand from health professionals who have made the choice to work in rural NSW and, through their own stories, inspire and highlight the many benefits a career in rural health can offer them,” Mr Colbran said.

Principal of Pymble Ladies’ College, Vicki Waters, said health is one of the most critical services for rural and regional communities and she is proud to partner with RDN to host such an important event.

“Hundreds of women from rural and regional Australia have been Pymble boarders over the past century and many of our boarders today are from the country, giving our school a close and ongoing connection with the bush,” Mrs Waters said.

“As part of Pymble’s community service program, we maintain strong ties with country communities, raising awareness and encouraging our young people to consider careers in health,” she said.

Registered Nurse and former Pymble Ladies College student, Phillipa Kensit, is a guest speaker at the Forum and is looking forward to the opportunity to help raise the profile of rural and remote health.

“As a rural health practitioner, you are everything - nurse, doctor, paramedic, friend, colleague, counsellor, and a shoulder to lean on,” Ms Kensit said.

“Rural and remote health provides an extremely unique and diverse experience of health care with an on the ground, community-centred approach to health and wellbeing. I am passionate about raising the profile of rural and remote, Indigenous and marginalised populations and developing sustainable change, based off a tangible experience in rural and remote Australia,” she said.

The Forum is one of many strategies RDN is implementing over the next few years to ensure it is working proactively towards a more sustainable health solution for rural towns.

“Building the future rural health workforce pipeline is integral to providing appropriate and affordable health care services for people living in remote, rural and regional communities across NSW,” Mr Colbran said.

“The Forum is a wonderful example of collaboration; of organisations coming together to not only promote the benefits of rural health careers to all high school students but importantly, to support rural boarding students to come home to practise and benefit their own community.” 

Download the Media Release

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